By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean drug firm Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corp. said Monday that it has won approval from Australia's drug authorities to begin a phase three clinical trial for coronavirus treatment with its acute pancreatitis drug.
The drug, Nafabeltan, will be administered to patients as part of the Australian government-led clinical study to find a COVID-19 treatment. The drug is currently used as a blood anticoagulant and acute pancreatitis treatment.
The Australian COVID-19 Trial, also known as ASCOT, is a randomized control trial that involves 2,500 patients in over 60 hospitals across the country alongside 12 hospitals in New Zealand with the participation of global pharmaceutical firms.
The study is organized by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity under University of Melbourne, Chong Kun Dang said.
Previously, Nafabeltan won approval for clinical trial studies in four other countries -- South Korea, Russia, Mexico and Senegal.
Chong Kun Dang said Nafabeltan showed the most potent antiviral efficacy against the COVID-19 virus when it is administered to COVID-10 patients with severe symptoms of pneumonia.
The approval comes after other major local players, including GC Pharma, have already begun production of their supplementary treatments for COVID-19.
GC Pharma's plasma therapy, known as GC5131, is a type of hyperimmune globulin drug that uses blood plasma taken from people who have fully recovered from COVID-19. It is considered one of the earliest treatment options.
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